Friday, November 2, 2012

Bizarre Bazaar

I have been so busy knitting that any other hobbies or non-housework activities were left on the back burner...  This blog being one of those things.  But look!

This is my half spot at a local bazaar, or as they seem to be called these days, craft show.  I had somewhere around 60-70 items for sale and they are all on this table.  I managed to get pretty much all of it knit between August and October, which I was pretty impressed with.

My bazaar experience was a bit bizarre mostly because I had truly no idea what to expect.  I'd been to some in the past but that was the extent of my knowledge.  After deciding that I was really interested in this, I started to search the internet for shows I could be in that were close enough to me.  I ended up with two in town options, one which had a booth price this first-timer could appreciate and the other which was a little pricey in addition to being juried.  What I came to learn was the juried type would look over my work ahead of time and make a decision based on that as to my admittance to their show.  In my position I felt that the lower price was best.

Still feeling a bit uncertain about expectations, I set out to do more research.  I found some ideas on various Ravelry boards but nothing that with information on the show as a whole.  I ended up finding an informative book at my local library, Crafts and craft shows: how to make money by Phil Kadubec.  The author and his wife had been on the craft show circuit in the California area selling their baskets and made quite a second career out of it.  They were a bit more serious about it than I am at this point and their market a bit different from mine, but there were many helpful hints, tips and tricks.

In order to better understand my customer, I also put out a quick survey for people who happened upon my Facebook or Twitter page and were willing to take a couple minutes and help out.  This helped me get an idea of the type of products most desired along with color and variety.

Now I was ready to really dig in and get product knit up.  I did start out with some items knit for my Etsy shop, but that needed to grow immensely   My beginning focus was hats of various colors in a pattern I had created myself and then mitts in matching colors in a complementary pattern I'd also created.  I did a couple other hats for variety and then moved on to scarves.  Personally, I'm more of a cowl fan, so this was a difficult category for me, but I had a couple of standby's that turned out nicely.  Speaking of cowls, I had already accumulated a nice selection of those so only one or two more were needed to round out that category.  Lastly I worked on smaller items, like cup (or coffee) cozies, headband style ear warmers (I call them Button Back Bands because of the button on the back) as well as hair clip and pins with flowers or bows on them.

I can honestly say I didn't stop knitting items for the sale, but there did come a point where I slowed down on the knitting and took to doing the less exciting work of preparations.  The first thing I did was set out everything on my dining room table to get an idea how it looked, did I have enough?, and what kind of display elements do I need?  I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I was worried was not enough filled the table out nicely.  I realized I would need something to hang scarves and bags as well as some other items for hat and mitt display.  A section of my table display would also be dedicated to items whose sale price would be donated to Susan B. Komen Passionately Pink.

Brown craft paper seemed a blank but not stark which canvas which to lay my items on and purple accents to match my business card theme seemed most appropriate.  I found that Styrofoam heads and hands are sold at big box craft stores and not just second hand store finds.  I added a man and a second woman to my thrift store found woman but couldn't find the Styrofoam hands I was hoping to use for my mitts.  I happened upon a sale on glassware at the craft store and some cute little purple ones appeared to be the size of a wrist so I purchased two of those as well.  I covered some boxes in purple tissue paper and used some thrift store stands to add some height to the display along with my proudest display piece... The re-purposed branches scarf display!  We had trees trimmed and cut down in our yard over the past year and had kept the branches as possible firewood so I went through out piles and found some in the right sizes.  I trimmed them to fit just right, screwed everything together and sprayed a coat of Poly on everything.

My daughter helped me set up the afternoon before the show (and also took the photo above) as well as sat with me most of the show.  While we did have some fun, it was mostly boring to her.  I was knitting between talking to people, saying hello, good morning, or good afternoon more than I have ever in a day!  I had lots of interest and even compliments from other knitters but not much in the way of sales.  My low goal was one sale because that covered the cost of my booth and I did pass that slightly so I was happy enough.

I'd really love to know what held people back from buying though, yet I fear I know the answer.  I would like to think of my style as more boutique-esque and the items are priced accordingly.  The other knit items booths I briefly saw were more granny or novelty style.  I mean no offense to either style, as they certainly have their place, it just put my style almost out of place.

This was a great experience and I'm glad I did it.  I've learned some things and would like to research shows more before I participate so I can be sure my style is in the right place.  Maybe juried shows would even be a good idea for me.  However I think for now I'll have to take pics of all my remaining items and get to listing on Etsy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The next step

I've been thinking of doing this for a while, but have finally take the time to get truly prepared.  I'm hoping to have a table or booth at a bazaar this fall or winter!  I've been knitting on a line of hats and fingerless mitts of the same style but in different colors.  I also plan to work on another hat of a similar style and many scarves and cowls.  I still have some Etsy shop items that I will take along as well and I'm hoping to get some input from outsiders on how to make the most of my shop.  If you take a moment to fill out a survey you can enter yourself into a drawing for $20 worth of DenKnits!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recent knits

I've been very focused on knitting as much as possible in my spare time. This has certainly caused me to fall behind in all my other creative outlets so I thought I'd take a quick moment to catch up here as I have gotten a lot knit.

I've knit up a hat with matching mitts as a gift for a recent grad in her new college colors... There was a cropped cardi completed as a PIF knit in shades on gray and black.

Personal knits have also been on the needles. I'm in the middle of a sweater that is running out of yarn... And I've taught myself Entrelac with a colorful yarn and a scarf pattern.

I used the remaining yarn from the cropped cardi to make a spiral scarf and I'm not sure where there is destined to go, perhaps it will end up in my shop!

There is still the living room afghan on the needles and patiently waiting for me to get back to it. Plenty of projects are also in various prep stages and I can't wait to get to everything. I think I am officially obsessed with knitting!

Friday, June 29, 2012

I made a spinning wheel!

I've spun fiber into yarn using a drop spindle a couple of times but found it to be a lot of work that went slowly and was dreaming of the day I could afford a spinning wheel...  Then my friend turned me on to a group in Ravelry that was teaching you how to make your own spinning wheel for $7!

I immediately read everything there and got to work on getting my parts.  My cost turned out a bit more than $7 (try $26.42) but still so much more affordable than the usual $300 and up wheels.  Then the hard part began...  The directions were somewhat vague at times but it was more of a guide as everyone learned together.
All my cut pieces

Rough layout of the wheel
The day after everything was bought I began the cuts on my 1x4x10 piece of wood and then sanded them all down.  Based on some thread discussion about staining/dyeing/painting the lumber I went with food dyeing.  I had a day off working on the wheel as I needed to by some regular food dye from the grocery store.  I mixed the red and blue together with some vinegar (about 1 tsp) and a little water (1/2 c at first, but switched to 1/4 c for my second coat) for a purple stain.  I did all the pieces one time, let them dry for a few hours, and put a second coat on all the pieces except the wheel parts.  Those were then left to dry overnight.  The following day I put on two coats of spray polyurethane then let it dry overnight.  
Close up of the stain, yes, I forgot gloves

All my purple pieces
Finally, assembly day!  I assembled the base without too many issues, except the brads did not seem to be holding it together securely.  I just kept on going, thinking it might work itself out as I got other parts together.  So I moved on to the spindle part, where I realized that two of the bolts I bought did not have threading all the way down, therefore would not work for this project.  A quick trip to the hardware store was necessary to purchase the correct bolts and I bought some cotton twine while I was there.  I started assembling the wheel pieces but the brads were causing me problems again, so I gave up for the night.

Bright and early today I set to finishing this wheel if it killed me!  I started by putting my pieces together to make the wheel and then I measured out the size I would need for the wheel cross bars and cut those out so I could poly them right away and give them some drying time.  I finished up the base by making the holes for the twine, then made the hole in the spine for the wheel placement.  I put my cross bars onto the wheel, drilled the hole for the bolt to attach to the spine as well as a hole for the shaker peg.  After putting some nuts, bolts and washers in the correct places I had the wheel assembled except for the drive band.  

At this point I found some fine tuning my wheel needed.  In order to have all the parts move smoothly the holes I drilled for the dowel to go through needed to be opened up a bit more so the dowel wouldn't get caught up and the two small blocks that were the base of the spindle needed to be nailed together so the twine wouldn't get caught between the two and create a gap.  To stabilize the base I used three nails on the back to hold it together more securely.  I was having a lot of problems with the peg, I may have drilled a hole just a bit too large.  I first tried to correct that with glue which wasn't drying fast enough, so I tried to nail through the other side.  That created all kinds of other problems and I ended up creating a new hole on the other side.  It was definitely more secure but I ended up super gluing it in just to be sure.  I took a small piece of leftover dowel and filled in the hole from my first peg placement attempt.

The completed wheel!
It's certainly not perfect, but it works and I think I will likely try this again with all the knowledge I gathered as I made this.  Now I'm off to spin for the first time!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lots of work and video podcasts

While I am still busy knitting, real work hours have taken a jump so I haven't had much extra time to talk about the knitting.  Besides my usual random knits, I had a request for two summer cropped cardi's which I am working hard on completing.  I have one down but I think it needs reshaping... they're lacy and I think I blocked it too aggressively.  I also have a grad present hat I'm about to start as a gift.  I worked on some quick baby knits for a new baby boy in the extended family as well. 

For a little background noise I like to watch shows on the internet while I work.  I recently became obsessed with video podcasts on knitting and after pulling almost 100 from iTunes based on name/description alone I've gotten through over 75 in an effort to find all my favorites.  I am honestly amazed at how many there are on this topic!  I am keeping notes and look forward to sharing my ratings and favs.  I have no intention of putting any down, rather I plan to list reasons why my favs suit my taste and why I'll pass on some others... although honestly there are very few that I plan to completely pass up!

Here are a few pics of recently finished objects (taken by iPhone)
Baby H bib, cloth and toy

Purple tank top for me

White lacy cropped cardi

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Magical Skein

I don't normally (ever?) knit with lace/fingering weight yarn, so maybe this is how it always works out, but 240 grams of this yarn has yielded so many items, I think it may be magical...

A friend of mine was recently destashing yarn and gave me a heads up in case I might like some.  We ended up exchanging a medium "it fits, it ships" box of yarn for an Amazon gift card.
We really like purple!
You can't really see in this pic, and I didn't take any pics before I started knitting, but in the top right of the box, is part of this magical skein.  It was wound in two hanks, one of 170 grams, the other 70 grams.  I caked up the larger hank and got to work on a lacy shawl (Ravelry link).  I was rather shocked to find I had a significant amount of the cake left!
I knit from the center of this cake, see that tiny hole?
And had this lovely mini shawl (yet to be blocked, so maybe it will get a big larger)...
But there is so much left, and I really enjoyed knitting with it (even though the pattern used size 4 needles, I usually hate going lower than 7!)... so I went browsing for another pattern I might like to use this for.  I found this pattern (Ravelry link) although I am not sure from where anymore.  I am down to the last 4 or 6 rows of the whole thing and I'm glancing at my remaining cake and thinking, really?  There is still MORE of this yarn!
Excuse my lame attempt at a quick phone photo, it was supposed to be lazy Sunday and blogging inspiration struck me
The funny thing is (or the other funny thing?) I can't get enough of this!  It's my only project on the needles (I'm not counting the living room afghan which hasn't been touched in weeks), not to say I didn't try.

I cast on a knit top between these two shawls using 2 skeins of my friend's destash and had it finished before I cast on for the second shawl (as it called for the same needles).  I ended up being rather unhappy with the top, thought I'd come up with a great way to fix it, only to have my mind changed during the partial frogging which went horribly.  Apparently my purl stitches puts the yarn through the loop in such a way that it has to be pulled back through not just unlooped.  That top was totally frogged, I caked the mess of yarn which remained and let ideas of my own creation for a top ferment which I continued to knit shawl two.

Originally I was thinking that the top would be recast after this shawl was finished, but really, I think I'll end up knitting with this never-ending mystery lace/fingering weight yarn because it's got me thinking, how far can it go???

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another 'How I Do It'... Recycled Sweater

I'm always interested in knitting with something different and finding deals in my hobby.  A great idea I'd read some about and wanted to try was reusing a sweater.

One day I found myself near by local thrift store and decided I'd read enough and should try my hand at this.  I'd tried unraveling sweaters we'd had in the house that someone outgrew or got a hole in, rather unsuccessfully.  Lessons learned included the yarn was very small (probably fingering or less) and the original construction created short pieces of yarn instead of long strands.  I decided I would look for heavy yarn (hopefully worsted or more) and make sure the seams were not surged.  I learned after reading some that factory sweaters are often made by cutting large pieces of knit material and surging the seams, which results in the short pieces of yarn I'd experienced myself.  A super cheap price was also a must, I wasn't sure how this would turn out so I needed a real deal!

I ended up with two sweaters that fit the bill.  One tan and the other pastel, they were $2.00 or less a piece and a large women's size so I would get a good amount of yarn out of the deal.  I've managed to find the time to work with the pastel piece so far and the pictures below will be based on that.

This is the sweater, a rather 80s styled pastel with brown

It even had puffy sleeve caps!

These are the inside seams, looked rather hand done

This is a sleeve section of yarn, I found out the brown was from one skein and the others a variegated skein 

This is the entire sweaters worth of yarn

I had one variegated ball and one brown ball for each sleeve, a front and a back

I soaked all the yarn with some Eucalan

And wrapped it around my swift to dry and hopefully get some kinks out

Then I wound it into a cake 

This is all of the variegated yarn from the sweater

In one huge cake
I left the brown yarn in hanks for now and got to work on a project with the pastel variegated yarn cake.  After knitting up a gauge swatch (gasp! This may be a first... but since this was an unknown yarn, it was a necessity) I went to Ravelry to see if there was an existing design; a top down raglan style top, in a girls size (for my daughter), that got a 4.5 st to 1 in gauge.  I wanted it fairly simple with a touch of interesting pattern.  As seems to be my usual result, I found one or two that were constructed and sized right but not having the patterning I was looking for, or some that had the patterning but were the wrong gauge or sizing, constructed in pieces instead of the round... on and on it went until I decided to just start from scratch on my own.

Remembering that the Vouge knitting book I'd bought a while back had a designing chapter I pulled it out and started reading, only to find that top down raglan style in the round was not covered.  After skimming through my other books and magazines I decided I had enough information to get started on my own.

I'm now maybe 1/4 into my second attempt and feeling like I may be on to something.  More than just in this top, I have an idea for creating a formula of sorts for making top down, in the round, raglan tops/sweaters.  This will need to be tested with another top before I can be sure, but I look forward to posting my formula soon!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How I pretend I'm greener and make plarn

I am one of those bad people who still uses plastic bags for their groceries... and being a family of 5, we get a large collection of plastic bags in a short time.  I am nice enough to feel a little bad about all these bags and just throwing them out... I know that some shopping centers have bins that you can put your used bags in, but do I ever remember to bring them back with me???  Hahaha...  So, my solution to be a little greener was to make PLARN.  Sounds kinda fun, for a knitter, right?  I went in search of a tutorial that would help me take my plastic bags and cut them into strips to knit with.  Surprisingly enough, most of them were really just that, cut the bag all the way across several times and end up with tons of strips that need to be attaches to each other.  They did have clever ways of attaching the ends so it wasn't too bulky, but I really wanted to make a continuous strip out of one bag.  Finally I did find one such tutorial, but I could not follow it all the way through.  Something about my brain just did not get the instructions.  So, I took what I could from that and started practicing my own method.

In just 15 pictorial steps you too can have plarn!  You may be wondering what you will do with all this plarn, well, make a bag of course :-)  DH thinks it sounds quite silly to make a bag out of a bag, like I'm just looking for an excuse to knit or something...  But, this knit bag will be sturdy and reusable.

I'm not really one for strict measurements so my instructions below are more of a guide.  I've tried to take pics that truly represent what you are doing, however in my rush to get more plarn (I need to finish my bag!) I used my phone's camera.

Step1: Lay the bag flat with the sides folded in 
Step 2: Cut off the handles
Step 3: Cut off the bottom seam
Your handle-less, bottom-less bag

Step 4: Pull out the folded in sides

Step 5: Start folding the uncut edge up, about 1 inch width

This is a wider shot of what you are doing and your bag orientation

Step 6: Continue folding up until you're about 1-2 inches from the other uncut edge

This is a wider shot of what you are doing and your bag orientation 

Step 7: Start cutting the folded section only, about 1 inch from the cut edge, stop the cut at the top folded edge, leaving the 1-2 inch at the top alone for now

Step 8:  Continue cutting approximately every 1 inch across the folded section only

Step 9: In the 1-2 inch top section, slip your scissors under the top layer so you are cutting only the bottom layer.  Cut at an angle that starts at the bottom left and goes across to the top right at approximately the same location of your folded section's 1 inch cut were to extend out.

Step 10: Fold out your angled cut and continue your cut straight across to the cut in the folded section

Step 11: Continue the angled cut on the bottom for all sections

Step 12:  Followed by the straight cut across the top for all sections

Step 13:  For the last section, you will cut only the angle on the bottom layer and you are done

On the left is the ball of my first cut bag, on the right is the pile of the bag I just cut, and the ends of each 

Step 14:  I just tie a knot with the two ends to secure

Step 15:  Wind the cut bag into a ball (it turns out more like a pancake for me)

The ball of plarn (2 bags worth)

This is the bag I started (and need to make more plarn for!)
To knit this bag, I cast on 100 stitches using size 15 circular needles.  For the first 5 rows I knit.  Then I began this simple pattern:

     R1: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R2: K
     R3: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R4: K
     R5: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R6: K
     R7: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R8: K
     R9: K2tog, yo, repeat
     R10-R14: K
Repeat R1-14

I just finished my third K2tog, yo section when I ran out of plarn.  My first plarn making session consisted of 20-25 bags.  I plan on making about the same amount to be sure I don't run out again.  When I finish a K2tog, yo section and the bag looks to be of a good length, I think I'll knit 10 rounds, then begin decrease rounds to get my number of stitches down to 10, then weave the tail through those stitches and finish it all off.  I still have to figure out handles, as I'm not sure if I'll make those out of plarn or something more sturdy (used jeans?).  Then I'll have a nice roomy bag that I think will be perfect for farmer's market or even the beach!    



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another pattern available

I am so pleased with the number of "hearts" my free pattern has received on Ravelry, I  had to put together my next pattern right away!

Presenting, The Penny: Cable and Rib Slouched Hat

This is a pattern that I'm charging for and I hope to have as much love for it as the free one...  Check it out on Ravelry or buy it now -